The predecessors planted trees, and the descendants took the shade. Behind the game benefits that players enjoy is the long road to the localization of the game.
“Ask the heaven and the earth. The Chinese version of Mining Art in Classical Chinese is available today…”
On July 6, the Java version of the game “Minecraft” was updated to the official version 1.17.1, which added a revised classical Chinese language pack. After setting the language to classical Chinese, you can see “Solo (single player)”, For the option of “Zhongxi (multiplayer game)”, “My World” has been translated as “Mining Art”, and the “Create World” option has also been translated as “Opening up a new world”. The ancient style is mixed with the breath of cultivating immortals.
Some players ridiculed, “Although they have awakened the pain of learning classical Chinese before, they have also felt that China’s influence is growing.”
China’s influence in the world game market is indeed increasing day by day. According to the “2018 Game Industry External Market Observation Report” released by Tencent’s PC Game Platform Operations Center, the number of registered Steam users worldwide reached 514 million in 2018. Among them, the number of registered users in China reached 59 million, accounting for 11% of the total. User activity ranks first.
The 15 most popular games on the Steam platform now all support Chinese subtitles. For Chinese players, the threshold for overseas games has been greatly reduced.
The proofreader “ff98sha” revealed that the translation work of the classical Chinese language pack of “Minecraft” was completed by community members: “We are ordinary players, but we really have ulterior motives.” In the eyes of Dumo, this time “I The Classical Chinese version of “The World” also shows that the overcapacity of the Chinese game nowadays, players have begun to “work” to find another way.
The predecessors planted trees, and the descendants took the shade. Behind the game benefits that players enjoy is the long road to the localization of the game.
In the 1990s when domestic video games were just emerging, players were not so lucky.
Game consoles and cassettes are extremely hot in the Chinese market. Those dazzling games are flooded with Japanese and English, and language has become an insurmountable obstacle. In order to open up the market and increase sales, domestic game pirate manufacturers began to translate games spontaneously, and the Chineseization of games came into being.
Domestic manufacturers represented by Fuzhou Yanshan and Alien Science and Technology have finished the Chineseization of well-known FC games. “Tank Battle” and “Three Kingdoms” are loved by players. Although the early Chinese-style games also had high-quality goods, most of them were of poor quality. The manufacturers simply translated it directly for profit, which resulted in low translation quality and made many jokes.
In 2002, there was a subtitle in the RPG computer game “Neverwinter Nights” (Neverwinter Nights), which was distributed by Taiwan Envelope Co., Ltd.:
“I looked up and saw the kind face of an old grandmother. I grabbed her hand… but she actually kicked my teeth.”
The original meaning of “she kicked me right in the teeth” in English means “she ignores me”, which shows how crude the manufacturer’s translation is. Since then, “Kick Tooth Grandma” has been widely used to complain about the carelessness of game publishers when translating. Similar translation stems include the “Gothic metal bastard” (originally: rest in peace, bastard) from “Assassin’s Creed 2”, and the translation of the game name of “The Elder Scrolls” into “Old Man Scroll”.
The quality of translation directly affects the game experience. Players had no choice but to do it themselves—the game Sinicization Group was born.
The early folk game Sinicization group was mostly composed of students. They were pure game enthusiasts, “powering for love”, without remuneration, hoping to translate their favorite games into Chinese for the benefit of domestic players.
From cassettes to the Internet, the localization group has continued to grow. Advertisers have come to seek cooperation. Game websites also hope to use the localization group for their own use. In the face of the urgent demand for Chinese-style games, who can produce Chinese-style works more quickly can attract more players. As a result, Sinicization has become a commodity, and a competition for speed has begun.
The increase in speed means the decrease in quality, and it is difficult to have both. “Speed and quality can only be relative, not absolute.” Jianjia’s Sinicization Group Leader Zeng said in an interview.
The Jianjia Sinicization Group is one of the most prestigious folk Sinicization groups in China. It has contributed to popular Chinese-style games such as “Civilization 5”, “The Elder Scrolls 5”, and “Grand Theft Auto 4: Chapter of Liberty City”. Previously, it was one of several localization groups established by the 3DM game website. After the appearance of another game website Ranger, the two websites began a frantic competition for the first launch.
One side is the urgent needs of the players, and the other side is the rivals. The Chinese team is under tremendous pressure from the top, and sometimes it has to sacrifice quality in order to ensure speed. Under such high pressure and competition, several Sinicization groups of 3DM were disbanded one after another. On January 24, 2013, after the new Sinicization work “Tower Defense: The Wizard of Oz” was released, Hariski officially announced that he would leave 3DM and become an independent Sinicization group. “We are independent because we don’t want to continue to be mixed in the fierce competition between 3DM and the Ranger.”
The commercial operation of the game’s localization is contrary to the original intention of “power generation for love”, and the frustrated localization group finally chose to exit.
In the 3DM forum, there was such a discussion, “I don’t know who remembers the Kanjia Sinicization Group”. The “remember” and “remembrance” in these posts seem to be a testament to the glorious years. They used to be a dark gaming era. Bring fire.
“Trick or treat if you don’t give Chinese”
“Remember that in 2013, there were less than 8 pages of Chinese games on Steam. Occasionally, a game comes with official Chinese, which is also in traditional Chinese. It is prepared for Hong Kong and Taiwan players. If you take advantage of it, just steal it.” Community memories.
Steam CN, a Chinese forum under Steam, once set up a localization section, inviting three localization groups, Jianjia, Tianmao, and Origin. The slogan of the forum reflects the idealism of the early Internet: “Chinese is the most widely used language in the world, but not the most widely used language. Let us work together to make Chinese the most widely used language in games!” What the platform can do It just provides an official channel so that the folk localization group can also serve a few genuine players.
This situation ushered in a turning point between 2014 and 2015. Genuine games have gradually become the mainstream, and the Chinese cultural trend of overseas games has begun to explode.
At the beginning of 2014, the “game console ban” that had been in the industry for more than ten years was lifted, and host manufacturers had the opportunity to launch the Bank of China machines to open up the mainland market. Among them, the joint venture between Microsoft and Bestcom was the first company to enter the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, and announced the National Bank version of Xbox one in April of the same year. At the end of the year, Sony held a press conference to announce that PlayStaion 4 borrowed from the “Double Twelve” e-commerce festival. Start the pre-sale.
When entering the mainland for the first time, the number of games that the Bank of China can provide is very limited, but once the signal of legalization is released, it can no longer be blocked. Overseas manufacturers have gradually noticed the buying potential of the Chinese market. For example, French manufacturer Ubisoft, which established a branch in Shanghai as early as 1996, immediately added the official simplified Chinese language to its flagship work “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” on all platforms released in 2015. .
Only three years ago, when Ubisoft tried to submit “Assassin’s Creed 3” for review, Zhou Ning, the head of the Chinese branch, said on Weibo that he had reached cooperation with websites such as 3DM, You Min Xingkong, and Ranger, but the subsequent development was extremely ironic. When the review speed is slower than the game’s global release time, some players believe that this will prevent them from playing the game for free at the first time. They have expressed protests and even indignation against the introduction of genuine copies. Websites such as 3DM also violated their promises and moved pirated resources.
In the PC market where piracy is rampant, Steam has stretched out a vital push. At the end of 2015, Steam started renminbi payment, supported Alipay as a settlement method, and designated China as a low-priced area. With convenient channels and low prices, the threshold for users to access genuine games has been greatly reduced. According to SteamSpy data, in May 2016, the number of Steam users in China exceeded 10 million, ranking fourth in the world. In stark contrast to the previous resisting attitude, spontaneously “replacement” of pirated games played was popular for a while.
With the increase in the number of players, players have a strong demand for “official Chinese”. However, if the game does not provide a Chinese option, you can always see the bad reviews saying “We need Chinese” in the evaluation area. A popular format is to arrange this sentence neatly in multiple languages (up to more than 50).
In fact, the built-in Traditional Chinese can no longer satisfy mainland players. Zhihu’s question on “Do I still need simplified Chinese with traditional Chinese?” collected nearly 1,500 answers, and one answer was topped in the front row: “I thought so at the beginning, but later I passed the “Witcher 3″. I still don’t know if Geralt’s horse is a grape or a radish.”
A PC Gamer report that year pointed out that the “bad reviews if you don’t give Chinese” like a Halloween joke reflects the lack of effective communication channels between Chinese players and overseas manufacturers, and the inability to smoothly access communities including the Steam community, reddit, and Discord. Feedback The only option is to write negative reviews.
But the indiscriminate bombing of the evaluation area itself is accompanied by controversy and easily spreads to the innocent. For example, when “Neil: Mechanical Era” was launched on Steam, there was no Chinese language and the price was increased. The “bad reviews” also spread to the publisher SE. Other games even include “Tomb Raider: Rise of the Tomb Raider” which provided Chinese dubbing for mainland players earlier.
In essence, the sensitive areas in the players’ hearts just feel that they are treated differently. In contrast to “bad reviews”, there are also a group of players who are determined to petition manufacturers in a more gentle and sincere manner, and leave a good story.
In July 2014, the 26-year-old “koutian1xiaotu” proposed in Baidu Tieba to take the opportunity of the Pokémon World Championship that year to express to Pokémon CEO Henghe Ishihara that players in the Chinese-speaking regions need Chinese. The petition totals 5 Draft and print in 4 languages. Several major initiators also set up special websites to gather the signatures of Pokémon players, photos, fan pictures, research data, etc., in just half a month from the initial scale of 100 people to Nearly 10,000 players participated.
At the tournament site, Henghe Ishihara received this painstaking petition and extended his blessings to the Chinese-speaking players, and the Pokémon officials responded accordingly. Since then, with the help of more than 500 players, an 8-minute short petition has continued to spread the impact of the event. The voice actress Matsumoto Rika, the protagonist of “Pokémon”, “Xiaozhi”, also appeared in the film.
This fan campaign failed to achieve immediate results. Its slogan was “7+1”. Nintendo announced that the social application “Miitomo” would support eight languages a year after the event. Foreign media generally speculated that the “+1” would be Chinese. As a result, Nintendo announced that the social application “Miitomo” would support eight languages. The Dutch language was added, and “Pokémon GO”, which became popular all over the world, did not include Chinese in the language list. Hope once seemed frozen. Fortunately, in February 2016, “Pokémon Sun Moon” finally fulfilled the players’ long-cherished wish. Both simplified and traditional Chinese were supported. At this time, the number of petitions on the website has reached nearly 30,000. .
Nintendo, which is the most indifferent to the mainland market among console manufacturers, also launched the National Bank version of Switch with Tencent at the end of 2019. From 2013 to 2017, the number of games that support Chinese on Steam maintained an annual growth rate of 50%. Among the games that support Chinese in 2018, domestic games accounted for only 9%. The “pirated game + Chinese patch” game mode has basically lost the need for existence in China.
The websites that used to be the main pirates, such as Vagrant Star and Ranger, have now completed their transformation into news and information platforms. They have jointly built a game Chinese group in the state of the times, and have also completed their own “historical mission.”
When the sinicization is formed into the past
Now use “Simplified Chinese” as a filter item to search on Steam. There are as many as 23,170 games. The players have either “only 8 pages” in their memory or have to face various error messages that pop up on the computer screen. Gone, the time when the entire network was looking for the software required for the operating environment and looking for localized patches was gone forever.
Steam will update the “User Software and Hardware Survey” every month. The value fluctuates according to the different popular games of the month. In June 2021, the number of players in simplified Chinese accounted for 23.68%, second only to players using English.
“Since the official China became the standard, it seems to be a very distant thing to apply the Chinese patch. I can’t help but miss the Chinese group that we chased in those years.” On the 3DM forum last year, some players were so emotional.
After that, some localization groups began to formally cooperate with game manufacturers to provide localization services for games. CA handed over the Sinicization of its “Total War: Three Kingdoms” to the Kanjia group, which has been in the series of Sinicization for many times. The first sentence of the opening quoted from “The Han Dynasty is on top of the accumulated salary” in the “Han Shu·Jia Yi Biography” It amazed many people. The players were able to experience a wonderful experience, reading the familiar texts brought by the Sinicization group that has been with them for many years in the official biography.
In 2017, Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” staff list, there is a strange name “Uncle.Wang de Next Door the Elder” (ie “Uncle King next door”), this member belongs to the “Flying Jackdaw” Chinese group , Responsible for the Chinese intensive correction of Egyptian proper nouns.
The Flying Jackdaw originally focused on the localization of the “Assassin’s Creed” series of games, and previously helped Rising Star Publishing to proofread a number of officially authorized novels. They are familiar enough with IP so that they can find many mistakes that translators can’t find. For example, there is a sentence in a novel that “Robert’s hair is very neatly repaired”, but this character is actually a bald head.
When the “Assassin’s Creed” movie was released in the mainland, Ubisoft took advantage of the opportunity to launch the “Official Chinese Return Program”, that is, to add simplified Chinese to the old games that did not have Chinese. “Ezio Collection” contributed to the “Flying Jackdaw” The first official cooperation with Ubisoft, and later all platforms added their names in the “Assassin’s Creed 2” thank you list.
The official Weibo of Jianjia Sinicization Group is still being updated. The latest Sinicization patch released is “Company of Heroes 2” in March this year, which is already an old game launched in 2013. Someone in the comment was surprised: “Kaijia is still alive?” I got a reply: “Always alive.”
In addition to Chinese subtitles, “highly localized” dubbing games have also increased significantly in recent years. The sense of contradiction brought by “translators” has been greatly enhanced in games such as Borderlands 3 and Cyberpunk 2077. ease. The “groundedness” brought by the characters’ swear words in pure Mandarin is something Chinese-speaking players have never experienced in the game before.
Ma Ming, who is in charge of the localization of “Cyberpunk 2077”, once revealed in an interview: “The text volume is 15%-20% more than the full version of “The Witcher 3″, with as many as 100,000 lines. 150 voice actors were used, and the Shanghai dubbing circle can basically come.” At the end of the project, he described it in his circle of friends as “an unprecedented and difficult journey.”
Bringing back the time to ten years ago, the leader of Jianjia’s Sinicization team, “Hariski”, said in an interview that his wish is only: “One day in the future, 10 language versions can have simplified Chinese, and I will be content.”
The difficult journey is now, and the Chinese player’s vision has undoubtedly been realized.
Source: Poison Eye